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How A Coffee Date Lead To The Veronicas’ Unexpected Sixth Album

When the Veronicas went over to John Feldmann’s house in Los Angeles last year, the plan was just to share some coffee and meditate. The Australian twin sister duo, made up of Jessie and Lisa Origliasso, are longtime buddies of Feldmann, who was the lead singer of band Goldfinger before becoming pop-punk’s foremost producer.

During a recent Zoom call from her beachfront home on Australia’s Gold Coast, Jessie describes one moment of “spontaneous creation” with Feldmann: The three of them ended up writing the songs “Perfect” and “Invisible” that very day.

“He was really excited about the songs, as we were, and was like, ‘Let me get a friend in to put some drums down and finish the song and bring it to life,’” she continues. “Then 10 minutes later, he’s called up Travis Barker, who walks in and puts down the drums for these two songs and took it to that next level.”

That was the day Gothic Summer, the Veronicas’ sixth studio album, was born. “It was a surprise to us, as well,” Lisa adds from her home from the more jungle-like, inland region of Australia. “We all left that day going, ‘Oh, I think something really special has happened.’”

For how much of a surprise the album turned out to be, the Veronicas describe the process as “seamless.” Maybe it was the lack of pressure to create an album in the first place; they had been on the road playing the festival circuit at the time, and in between those gigs they would find themselves back in the studio to work on the project. Those festival shows ended up being a major source of inspiration for the new tracks, especially since they were such a new setting for the pair to perform in.

“We’re playing in front of not just our fans, but other artists’ fans,” Lisa describes, noting that they’ve been on the bills for everything from rock festivals to hip-hop and folk ones. “When you’re on a festival lineup, people are there to see all sorts of different artists. And I think that’s been a really fun thing for us because you get to reconnect with your fan base, but you get to try and convince everyone else that they should love you too.”

The energy and clear diversity in their fanbase’s taste opened up the realm of possibilities for the musical direction, and the duo explored all of it. While “Perfect” is a classically emo-pop banger from the Veronicas, the single “Here to Dance” is a bit of a disco-y pop rager. Meanwhile, the surprising “Jungle” is a slice of surf-rock perfection, a tribute to how popular the genre is in Australia and their own parents’ music taste.

“The whole theme of Gothic Summer is that it’s basically exploring social commentary on what we think is reality versus how we create our reality,” Jessie says of the album’s lyrical throughline. “It’s a very metaphorical album.”

The concept of “perception vs. reality” is one the Veronicas are very familiar with after nearly two decades in the industry. They were 20 when they released their debut album The Secret Life Of… in 2005 and had their lives turned upside down by its success.

“Jessie and I have gone through all sorts of crazy things over the 20 years of our career, and even just in life, as two young women growing up,” Lisa admits. “We’ve experienced a lot of life stuff, especially over the past six years, that have given us a gift of perspective on what really matters. I think it’s actually what keeps us going.”

Much of the twins’ perspective came from their mom, who was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy and Lewy body dementia in 2018. She passed away in 2021.

“That has been a huge driving force behind us wanting to put our health and happiness first,” Jessie says. “We are not immortal, and we have a certain amount of time on this earth to do what we would like to do with it. That’s been a very big shift for us to make sure that we’re spending our time honoring ourselves and what really makes us happy, as well as being kinder.”

The Veronicas are working on a different, and still secret, musical project separate from Gothic Summer that has been helpful for them to channel their grief through.

“Music has always saved our lives, and it’s always been our sacred space and our way to cope,” Lisa adds. “But that’s not what Gothic Summer is. This record is a little more like, ‘We laugh so we don’t cry.’”

For the Veronicas, Gothic Summer is a celebration. But it doesn’t feel like a new beginning for them. Instead, it feels like the end.

“It feels like we’re in the incubation period for something else,” Jessie explains as best as she can since she’s not sure what that something else will be for them just yet. “Gothic Summer was the completion of either a mindset or a cycle or just something within how we’ve used our music and the Veronicas itself as a vehicle for our stories.”

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This chapter of their career together so far also comes with big plans to celebrate The Secret Life Of…’s twentieth anniversary next year, which they’re already chipping away at plans for. It’s an an achievement the pair don’t take for granted.

“When you reach a 20-year milestone, that feels like ‘We survived it,’” Lisa muses. I’m really proud of Jessie, and I hope she feels proud of me. And we know our mommy was really proud of us. She was our biggest fan. And we’re okay. We are still so in love with music and creation. That fear mentality and that struggle kind of falls away.”

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